Unlikely Survivors: Six of the Best "Final Kids" in Horror – Bloody Disgusting

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Horror has always been a matter of perspective. The maniac with a knife just isn’t as intimidating when he’s facing off against a SWAT team, and the only thing keeping Predator from turning into an all-out slasher flick is the size of the protagonists’ biceps. It’s a lot easier to fear for a helpless victim, and that’s why it makes sense that so many scary stories focus on children and childhood fears.
After all, what’s more vulnerable than a child? And with so many child-centric scary movies out there, we’ve come up with this list celebrating six of the best “Final Kid” performances in horror.
Talented child actors are hard to come by, so I think it’s time to shine a light on the pint-sized survivors that helped to make some of our favorite horror flicks so memorable.
While this list is based on personal opinion, there are a couple of rules. First of all, we’ll only be featuring horror protagonists, so no creepy children like Harvey Stephens’s Damien or Linda Blair’s Regan. Second, no ensembles like the cast of Monster Squad or either version of Stephen King’s It, as they would take up too much space on the list.
With that out of the way, don’t forget to comment below with your own favorite child actor performances in horror movies if you think we missed an important one.
Now, onto the list…
6. Jamie Lloyd / Danielle Harris – Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Named after the original final girl Jamie Lee Curtis, Danielle Harris’ Jamie Lloyd is much more than a simple rehash of her namesake. An innocent child with a seemingly supernatural connection to her serial-killing uncle, Jamie is actually a driving force behind the plot, with a lynch mob forming around the poor girl when Michael decides to return to Haddonfield and reclaim his long-lost niece.
She’s also extremely likable and clever, trying her best to stay alive even when she’s being used as bait. Of course, the final reveal that Jamie has inherited Michael’s taste for blood is made all the more horrifying by the lovable performance that came before. It’s just a shame that the subsequent sequels didn’t really know what to do with Harris’ iconic survivor.
5. Ofelia / Ivana Baquero – Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Often considered to be Guillermo Del Toro’s magnum opus, this historical monster movie is a unique case where the flick doesn’t feel terrifying precisely because of our ten-year-old protagonist. Played to perfection by Ivana Baquero, Ofelia is an imaginative young girl that’s simply trying to make sense of the chaos surrounding her – both in and out of the titular Labyrinth.
Dealing with child-eating creatures and totalitarian horrors alike, Ofelia stands out due to her inquisitive nature as well as her courage and outstanding moral fiber. While her status as a “final kid” depends on your interpretation of the film’s ambiguous finale, there’s no denying that the little Ivana left a sizable mark on Del Toro’s filmography.
4. Oskar / Kåre Hedebrant – Let the Right One In (2008)

Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In is mostly remembered for Lina Leandersson’s fascinating portrayal of the child-vampire Eli, but the movie simply would not work if it wasn’t for Kåre Hedebrant’s melancholy portrayal of the lonely Oskar. A sensitive kid who’s the frequent target of bullies, Hedebrant adds just the right amount of pathos to make you understand why the poor kid would fall in love with a vampire.
This is also a particularly tragic entry as Oskar is ultimately doomed to become Eli’s new familiar, meaning that his condition as a “final kid” isn’t necessarily a happy ending. Oskar was competently played by Kodi Smit-McPhee in Matt Reeves’ 2011 remake of the film (here called “Owen”), but I believe that Hedebrant’s take on the character remains the definitive version.
3. Tommy Jarvis / Corey Feldman – Friday the 13th – The Final Chapter (1984)

Tommy Jarvis is usually remembered as the unfortunate teenager (played by Thom Mathews) who accidentally turned Jason Voorhees into an invincible zombie in Friday the 13th Part VI – Jason Lives, but his character was originally introduced back in Part IV, where he was a young horror fan played by the ever-lovable Corey Feldman.
Not only is Jarvis responsible for outsmarting and murdering the hell out of the original “human” version of Jason Voorhees, but he also does it through his unusual love of horror media and special effects, making him one of the most compelling final kids out there.
2. Danny Torrance / Danny Lloyd – The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick famously convinced Danny Lloyd that The Shining was actually a comedy in an effort to not traumatize the kid during production, but you could never tell due to the boy’s chilling performance. Jack Nicholson may have gotten all the glory due to his memorably manic portrayal of Jack Torrance, but Lloyd – and Shelley Duvall – make up the real heart of this Stephen King adaptation.
From his eerie way of speaking to his “imaginary friend” Tony to his odd facial expressions when faced with the horrors of the Overlook Hotel, Danny is a huge part of what makes this intricate puzzle of a film tick, and that’s why he ranks so high on this list.
1. Andy Barclay / Alex Vincent – Child’s Play (1987)

Chucky may have gone on to become a pop culture super-star, just as (if not more) recognizable as Freddy and Jason, but it’s easy to forget that the original Child’s Play began as the tragic story of a young boy being framed for his favorite doll’s homicidal tendencies. The entire film only works because it’s so easy to fear for Andy’s well-being, and most of that is due to Alex Vincent’s charming line delivery and overall cute-ness.
That’s why I’m glad that Vincent returned to the role back in 2013’s revival of the franchise (not to mention SYFY’s TV series), as I think you can’t tell a proper Child’s Play story without bringing up the original “Final Kid” that took Charles Lee Ray down.
Born Brazilian, raised Canadian, Luiz is a writer and Film student that spends most of his time watching movies and subsequently complaining about them.
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Every Halloween, horror fans curate lists of holiday appropriate horror films and TV specials to immerse themselves in. The genre has given us plenty to choose from. The options range from the obvious – such as the Halloween films to new classics like Trick r’ Treat to beloved family friendly staples like Hocus Pocus and everything in between.
Every year websites publish Halloween movie listicles and social media is awash in personalized lists and recommendations.
But what about horror films that are a bit off the beaten path – horror films that don’t have anything at all to do with the holiday, but give us those special vibes that make them great viewing for the season? Below are three films to seek out if you’re looking for fun and immersive thrills for your Halloween binging.
Fender Bender

Mark Pavia of The Night Flier wrote and directed this straight-to-television slow burn slasher. Fender Bender premiered on the now sadly defunct ChillerTV in 2016 and has since languished in relative obscurity. The film doesn’t seem to have much love behind it, which is a shame because despite being nothing particularly new in the slasher genre, it’s very well mounted and offers up some atmospheric fun with an effective killer and a surprising mean-streak.
Fender Bender is an obvious mix of Carpenter’s Halloween and Tarantino’s Death Proof. If that description alone doesn’t pique your interest… I don’t know what will.
The approach to the killer is what makes the film a bit more interesting than other modern day slashers. He is simply credited as The Driver (Bill Sage). We see his face. We hear him speak. We see his methods of operation before he dons his slasher garb – a head to toe black leather, S&M coded get-up that makes him resemble his own car. The goggles act as headlights and the mouthpiece acts as a grill. Where Stuntman Mike from Death Proof uses his car as the murder weapon, The Driver wants to become the car itself.
Outside of his costume, he puts on a laid back charm that still can’t quite mask his creepiness – but when he’s all gassed up and ready to go (sorry, I had to, the pun couldn’t be stopped) he’s silent and purposeful. He’s…ahem…driven, if you will.
It does take a little too long for Fender Bender to hit the gas. Our protagonist Hilary (Mackenzie Vega) isn’t the strongest character to follow around for 45 minutes and the film threatens to tip into tedium, but just as you feel the urge to yell at the film to pick up the pace, it does. The last third of the film is a no-nonsense stalk-and-kill good time with an ending that’s more of a downer than one would expect going in.
If you’re in the mood for some well done slasher goodness this Halloween that doesn’t include Michael Myers, spend some time with The Driver and hit the road with Fender Bender. It’s well worth the trip. And it’s now streaming on SCREAMBOX.
Spook Warfare

Let’s go back to 1968 with Daiei Film’s family-friendly Yokai romp, Spook Warfare. Part of a loose trilogy all centered around the Japanese folklore of Yokai (broadly defined as spirit or entities), the story revolves around an ancient, evil being that is accidentally set free by some treasure hunters. Said evil being, Daimon, makes his way to Japan where he quickly takes over a local Lord – Lord Isobe.
Daimon’s plans of domination and murder must be thwarted by a group of Yokai before he can upset the balance of the spirit world irreparably.
Directed by Yoshiyuki Kuroda, Spook Warfare is the kind of practical effects driven bit of pure cinematic imagination I would have watched endlessly as a kid if it was available to me. Despite not being overtly violent, the film sports a copious amount of moody atmosphere and the threat Daimon presents is taken seriously. The Yokai, all designed to be accurate to the real lore, are varied in appearance and charming as hell to see come to life. Some, like the long-necked Rokurokubien, may even unsettle younger children with their uncanny appearance. Have no fear though, as all of the Yokai are the good guys in this story.
A recent first viewing of Spook Warfare has cemented it as a new favorite here. It’s fast paced, packed with charming humor, and features enough whimsy and old school craft to enrapture audiences of all ages. If you’re looking for truly outside the box viewing for Halloween, Spook Warfare is a must.
Vampyr

By far the oldest movie on this list, Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1932 film Vampyr has gotten more and more reappraisal and analysis over the years. The film was a failure during its initial release, but is now seen as a masterpiece of early technical craft and Talkie cinema. The film’s narrative sets itself apart from most horror cinema of the 1930s with its dreamlike tone and execution.
Not to spoil it for those who have yet to see it, but while Vampyr is indeed a vampire film, don’t go in expecting a tale of fangs and capes and gothic castles in the mountains. Dreyer’s film is moody, opaque, and at times rather experimental. Plenty of films can be described as “dreamlike,” but there is no denying the simple but effective way Vampyr wraps itself around you and pulls you in with its uncanny tone and atmosphere. Dreyer’s strong grasp on creating eerie composition and setting instantly creates an otherworldly sense of unease.
Vampyr is a film that deals with the occult in ways that may surprise viewers who don’t know what to expect. As mentioned before, the technical craft on display is staggering in its intricacies, especially during the last minutes of the film. The sparse, rough dialogue only adds to the film’s sense of unreality.
Turn off the lights, light a few candles, and immerse yourself in the world of Vampyr. It’s essential viewing for the horror faithful and a perfect cap to end your Halloween watchathon with.
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